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Song-Hyun Choi

2010 (Narrative date)

he Global Slavery Index 2018 estimates that there are 2,640,000 people living in conditions of modern slavery in The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). Men, women and children are subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Government oppression in the DPRK prompts many North Koreans to flee the country in ways that make them vulnerable to human trafficking in destination countries. Many of the estimated 10 000 North Korean women and girls who have migrated illegally to China to flee abuse and human rights violation are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. Some lure, drug, detain or kidnap North Korean women on their arrival, others offer jobs but subsequently force the women into prostitution, domestic service, or forced marriage. If found, Chinese authorities often repatriate victims back to the DPRK where they are subjected to harsh punishment including forced labour in labour camps or death.

Son-Hyun Choi left North Korea in 2007 to China. However, upon arrival she was sold to a man who sexually abused her. Though she was able to escape and gain employment, she found her self under continued surveillance.

I left NK through On Sung, North Ham Kyung Province. At first I was sold to a Chinese man in a farm town in Heilongjiang Province for 15,000 Yen (U$2,000) by a Korean Chinese in Yanji. It was terrible for a young girl like me to be exposed to such things, but I had no choice. I was forced to obey this man to survive. Moreover, he kept on threatening me if I disobeyed him. The consequences would be repatriation to North Korea. I was hopeless. For an 18 year old girl with no knowledge of geographical information and knowing nothing of their language I was totally isolated. I had to live with a man who was 13 years older than me, by force without any opinion on preference. Frankly, for my age, I should have the opportunity to go to college and have a dream life married to a dream husband. But I was desperate for a girl who was under 20, being sold and forced to live like this. I had no freedom to go out because I was North Korean, who was in danger to be arrested and repatriated to NK. That man didn't allow me to go out at all. I wanted to make money for my family in NK, but I had no chance to go out to make money. I was only a sexual play mate to that man every night. One day I had a chance to go out and I fled from that house. I just came to Yanji city and I was referred to a place where I could make lots of money, which was the Computer Chatting industry. I am working under heavy surveillance and I have no freedom. Please help me to escape from this atmosphere. I want to go to Korea. I will wait for your good news. Thank you.


Narrative provided by Escaping North Korea: The Plight of Defectors: Hearing before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission House of Representative